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Appreciative Inquiry

Part I:  Description

What is Appreciative Inquiry (AI)? A Strengths-Focused Approach to Change

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a powerful framework that transforms organizations and communities by focusing on what's working well, not what's broken. Instead of dwelling on problems, AI amplifies strengths and successes to envision and build a brighter future.

The Gardening Analogy

Think of your organization like a garden. Traditional problem-solving is like weeding – important, but AI is like nurturing the flowers. By focusing on strengths, you promote growth and lasting positive change.

Key Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

  • Positive Questions: AI guides conversations away from problems and towards moments of excellence. (Example: "What have our greatest successes taught us?")

  • Appreciative Interviews: These respectful conversations uncover hidden strengths and stories of resilience.

  • Co-Creating the Ideal: Using the positive insights, stakeholders collaboratively visualize the best possible future.

  • It's a Journey, Not a Destination: AI emphasizes continuous learning and adapting based on what's working.

Where Appreciative Inquiry Shines

  • Organizations: Improves communication, collaboration, and innovation

  • Communities: Fosters positive social change and problem-solving

  • Schools: Enhances the learning environment

  • Families: Strengthens relationships

  • Individuals: Promotes a strengths-based mindset for personal growth

Benefits of Appreciative Inquiry

  • Boosts Morale: Celebrating wins fosters motivation and engagement.

  • Stronger Relationships: AI builds trust and cooperation.

  • Sparks Innovation: A positive focus unleashes creativity and new solutions.

  • Change That Lasts: A focus on what's working creates more sustainable shifts.

Part II:  Common Questions

What is Appreciative Inquiry (AI), and how is it different from traditional problem-solving?

  • AI Definition: A strengths-based approach to change that focuses on identifying and amplifying what's working well in an organization, team, or individual, rather than fixating on problems.

  • Key Difference:

  • Traditional Problem-Solving: Analyzes what's wrong, seeks to fix the deficit.

  • Appreciative Inquiry: Seeks to understand what's right, with the belief that building on strengths creates sustainable change.

What are the benefits of using Appreciative Inquiry?

  • AI offers several potential advantages:

    • Increased Motivation: Focusing on the positive is naturally more energizing than dwelling on problems.

    • Builds on Success: Identifies what's already working and uses that as a foundation for growth.

    • Fosters Collaboration: Its positive framing encourages participation and shared ownership of change.

    • Creates a "Possibility" Mindset: It helps people envision a better future and sparks creativity.

How does Appreciative Inquiry actually work?

  • While there are various models, the core phases typically involve:

    • Discover: Identifying the best of what is – past successes, core strengths, etc.

    • Dream: Envisioning what could be – an ideal future based on the strengths identified.

    • Design: Creating a plan to bridge the gap between the current state and the desired future.

    • Destiny: Implementing the plan, sustaining change, and celebrating progress.

Part III:  Additional Resources



  • "What is Appreciative Inquiry?" (Positive Psychology): Concise overview of AI principles and applications.

  • "Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change" (Forbes): Explores AI's impact on organizational change.


  • "Appreciative Inquiry Handbook" by David Cooperrider, Diana Whitney, & Jacqueline Stavros: A comprehensive resource for AI theory and practice.

  • "The Power of Appreciative Inquiry" by Diana Whitney: Focuses on applying AI for positive transformation.

  • "Learning to SOAR": by Jacqueline Stavros(Author),Gina Hinrichs(Author). Creating Strategy that Inspires Innovation and Engagement.


  • AI Training & Workshops: Organizations like the Taos Institute offer workshops for deeper learning and certification in AI practices (

  • YouTube Videos: Search for "Appreciative Inquiry examples" to find case studies and applications.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

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